Certification Mill vs. Accredited Institution

by Nick Gromicko and Ben Gromicko
  

Certification Mill

A certification mill is an entity that: 

  • offers a certification based on the individual's work experience, such as performing home inspections in the past, with little or no documentation of prior learning;  
  • offers a certification that represents that the individual has completed an accredited certificate program, even though the program is not accredited by an accrediting organization of the U.S. Department of Education (USDE);  
  • requires the individual complete little or no accredited education or coursework to obtain such a certificate; and 
  • lacks accreditation by a national accrediting agency recognized by a federal or state department of education. 
 
 

Worthless or Fraudulent

A certification mill operates without supervision by any state or federal agency, or national accrediting agency, and grants certifications that are worthless (at best) or fraudulent (at worst) because of a lack of institutional standards. 

 

 

To Be Listed

Certification mills include schools, associations, and societies that are more interested in taking your money than providing you with a quality education.  They often require no technical courses, quizzes or exams in order to be listed on their professional search sites and maps that they present to unsuspecting consumers searching for such professionals.

 

 

Red Flags

The Better Business Bureau and InterNACHI® suggest that you watch for the following features and regard them as red flags when considering whether or not to enroll in a school or organization.

  • The organization or school's certifications can be earned in less time than it would take at an accredited post-secondary institution.  An example of this would be getting listed on a home inspection organization's inspector search maps simply by joining the organization and paying a fee.
  • The organization or school lists an accrediting agency that sounds obscure, or perhaps a little too impressive.  Often, these schools will list accreditation by organizations that are not recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.  These schools will also imply that they have received official approval by mentioning state registration or licensing.
  • The organization or school places emphasis on obtaining a home inspector certification for completing a number of home inspections in the past, rather than on any new training.

NOTE:  Not all online home inspection schools and associations are certification mills.  Do your homework and research the school or association that you're interested in attending.

 

 

Credit for Performing Home Inspections in the Past

Beware of institutions that offer certification credit based on work experience, such as performing home inspections in the past, with little or no documentation of prior learning.  There are schools, associations, and societies that certify home inspectors based primarily on how many home inspections the individual has performed.  These institutions do not use valid methods for determining the amount of credit to be awarded.  There are many employers, institutions, and licensing boards that will question the legitimacy of certifications earned this way, and will only recognize certifications earned from institutions accredited by an accrediting agency of the U.S. Department of Education.

An institution that may award credit for prior inspection experience should follow national standards set by the USDE.

  • Certification credit should be awarded to an individual for recent accredited learning, and not primarily for performing a number of home inspections in the past.  Those home inspections may have been performed years ago, improperly supervised by non-accredited instructors, performed according to old inspection standards, and with no quality control or quality assurance standards.  
  • Certification credit should be awarded to an individual for recent accredited learning that demonstrates theoretical and practical application, which cannot be verified by reviewing the individual's inspection reports
  • Certification credit should be awarded to an individual for recent accredited learning, and not for the individual's affidavit validating their own work experience.  
  • Policies and procedures for awarding certification credit must be fully disclosed and available for review by an accrediting agency of the U.S. Department of Education. 
  • Determination of competence standards and the decision to award certification credit to an individual must be made by academic personnel and subject-matter experts who have been qualified by a nationally accredited institution. 
  • Personnel who are responsible for assessing and awarding certification credit to an individual must hold, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree, with verifiable home inspection expertise, and certification awarded by a nationally accredited institution.  
  • Personnel who assess and award certification credits must receive adequate training and continually complete professional development education provided by a nationally accredited institution. 
If an individual is certified by a school, an association, or a society that does not follow national standards set by a governmental accrediting agency of the U.S. Department of Education (USDE), that individual's certification may be considered invalid.  
 

Fake Accrediting Agencies

Certification mills often claim accreditation by a fake accrediting agency to make them seem legitimate in order to attract more students to their certification programs.  Because certification mills aren't accredited by a nationally recognized agency, you will not find the institution's accrediting agency on the U.S. Department of Education's list of Nationally Recognized Accrediting Agencies.

The fake accrediting agency is just for show; it offers its accreditation for a price without subjecting the school to any in-depth review of the its programs, certifications, or education courses.  These accrediting agencies do not ensure that students will receive a quality education.  Often, the fake accrediting agency has simply conducted a business deal with the institution without investigating it in any manner.

These fake accrediting agencies may adopt names that are similar to other well-known accrediting agencies, and sprinkle legitimate institutions in its list of accredited members.  They may even use all the proper-sounding words in their marketing materials to describe their accrediting standards and review processes.  In actuality, those accrediting standards and procedures are never put to use; thus, the accreditation is meaningless.

TIP:  Do not allow these schools, entities and organizations to mislead you; always do your homework on any school you want to attend.  In some states, it can be illegal to use a certification from an institution that is not accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency.  Remember that it isn't enough to know that an institution is accredited; you need to find out as much as you can about the accrediting organization.  Your efforts will be worth your time and energy... and your money. 

 

 

To Check the Accreditation of a Home Inspector School or Organization

To check the accreditation status of a home inspector school or organization: 
 
 
  
 
 

 

Are You a Certified Inspector? 

What if someone asks you, "Are you a certified home inspector?"  
 
Because the InterNACHI® School is accredited by the national accrediting agency of the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) and a College Member of the National Association of Career Colleges of Canada, InterNACHI® Certified Professional Inspectors (CPIs)® can confidently reply, "Yes." 
 
 

InterNACHI® School's Accreditation

The InterNACHI® School is the only home inspector school accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education & Training (ACCET), a national accrediting agency of the U.S. Department of Education (USDE), to provide free online training, certification, and Continuing Education to InterNACHI® members.

 
The InterNACHI® School is a Member College of the National Association of Career Colleges of Canada (NACC), a national association representing 500 regulated career colleges across Canada (Association Nationale des Colleges de Carrieres).
 
   

Become a Certified Home Inspector

Become an InterNACHI® Certified Professional Inspector® by completing the Home Inspector Certificate Program accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education & Training (ACCET), a national accrediting agency of the U.S. Department of Education (USDE). 
  
 
 

Resources

This article's information was sourced the U.S. Department of Educations websites: 
 

Press Release

 
 
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